NSW state legislation may restrict unleaded fuel access

As of January 1, 2017 Port Macquarie-Hastings region motorists may no longer have access to unleaded fuel, instead choosing from ethanol blended petrol and premium petrol to fill up their vehicles. 

The state government has passed legislation that will require service stations to choose between spending an average of $300,000 to install new underground tanks to store and sell E10, or replace unleaded fuel with E10 at their service stations.

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams MP said the NSW Government is committed to promoting ethanol as a long term alternative fuel in NSW.

“E10 has the potential to be the most cost effective fuel at the bowser in NSW, but to achieve this we need the right policy settings,” she said. 

Mrs Williams said in March, 2016 the government passed reforms to the NSW Ethanol Mandate to put downward pressure on E10 prices, increase compliance among fuel companies and boost transparency in the market.

“Part of these reforms included setting a threshold limit of 3.6 million litres of fuel sold per year, which ensures that small service stations are not captured by the mandate,” she said. 

“For those above the threshold limit, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation has asked the NSW Small Business Commissioner to develop an exemptions framework to ensure that excessive upgrades costs will not be borne by mum and dad operators.”

The national body representing fuel retailers in Australia has criticised the legislation.

“Faced with the choice of spending large sums of money for additional fuel tanks or removing regular unleaded petrol from sale, most retailers will be forced to remove unleaded petrol from their service station sites”, Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) chief executive officer Mark McKenzie said.

Motorists in regional areas are likely to be the worst hit, Mr McKenzie said as the lower volumes of fuel sales in regional areas means that most service stations will have no choice but to replace unleaded petrol with E10.

NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury said he hoped that the new state legislation wouldn’t impact on Port Macquarie or surrounding towns. 

He said it is still not clear whether the new legislation will apply to the Port Macquarie-Hastings area but there are 100 service stations across NSW that will be impacted. 

There are some exemptions in place he said for service stations who can’t meet the guidelines. 

These include petrol stations who sell under 3.6 million litres of fuel a year and also those who sell less than three types of fuel. 

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